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This blog is to highlight the unjust persecution of legitimate non-TV users at the hands of TV Licensing. These people do not require a licence and are entitled to live without the unnecessary stress and inconvenience caused by TV Licensing's correspondence and employees.

If you use equipment to receive live broadcast TV programmes, or to watch or download on-demand programmes via the BBC iPlayer, then the law requires you to have a licence and we encourage you to buy one.

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Monday, 20 January 2020

Tony Hall to Step Down as BBC Director General

Tony Hall is to step down as Director General of the BBC.

Hall announced the news in his regular weekly email to all staff, the full text of which was later published on the BBC website:
Dear colleagues,

First of all, thank you for all your comments and feedback since I spoke to you from Cardiff last week. It was really important to me to set a clear direction for us, as well as celebrating some of the outstanding work you're doing.

My reason for writing is however more personal. I wanted you to be the first to know that I will give my all to this organisation for the next six months, as I have done these last seven years. But in the summer I'll step down as your Director General.

It's been such a hard decision for me. I love the BBC. I'm passionate about our values and the role we have in our country - and what we do globally too.

If I followed my heart I would genuinely never want to leave. However, I believe that an important part of leadership is putting the interests of the organisation first. The BBC has an eleven-year Charter - our mission is secure until 2027. But we also have a mid-term review process for the spring of 2022. As I said last week, we have to develop our ideas for both. And it must be right that the BBC has one person to lead it through both stages.

Over the next six months my priority, as always, will be to champion this great organisation and continue to direct our re-invention. There's so much we can do to transform the creative industries around the UK still further and to project this country’s talent and ideas to the world.

Our Chairman, David Clementi, will begin the search for my successor and he'll let you know how that will work shortly.

We'll have plenty of time to talk in the months ahead but I'd like to share three thoughts with you today.

First, thanks to you and your great work I believe I'll be leaving the BBC in a much stronger place than when I joined. It feels a very different organisation - more innovative; more open; more inclusive; more efficient; more commercially aware. And a BBC that's on cracking creative form. You all have my thanks and admiration for the part you've played in that success.

Change has been tough at times - and, of course, there's still more to do. But I believe our recent record of transformation stands comparison with virtually any other creative organisation in the world.

Second, without question, our values have never been more relevant to the society we live in. As our country enters its next chapter it needs a strong BBC, a BBC that can champion the nation's creativity at home and abroad, and help play its part in bringing the UK together. In an era of fake news, we remain the gold standard of impartiality and truth. What the BBC is, and what it stands for, is precious for this country. We ignore that at our peril.

Finally, we must and can never stand still. We have to keep adapting, reforming and leading. Our values are timeless but the need for constant change is ever-present. The BBC has changed hugely in recent years - and that's going to continue. We have to embrace the opportunities it brings.

We'll be working flat out, across the Executive Committee, to implement the priorities I talked to you about last week, and to demonstrate why public service broadcasting - with the BBC at its heart - is an eternal idea.

Very best wishes,

Hall first joined the BBC as a news trainee in 1973. After several internal promotions he was appointed as the Director of BBC News and Current Affairs in 1990. In 1999 he applied for the role of Director General, but was pipped at the post by Greg Dyke.

Hall continued to lead BBC News until 2001, when he took up alternative employment as the Chief Executive of the Royal Opera House. He returned to the BBC as Director General in April 2013 and will step down this summer.

The BBC will shortly begin the task of selecting a replacement.

Names being mentioned as potential candidates include Sharon White, the former Chief Executive of Ofcom who now chairs John Lewis Partnership; Gail Rebuck, the Chair of the British arm of book publishing giant Penguin Random House; and the Channel 4 Chief Executive, Alex Mahon.

Possible internal candidates include Director of Content, Charlotte Moore; Director of Radio and Education, James Purnell; and Director of News and Current Affairs, Fran Unsworth.

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Sunday, 19 January 2020

BBC Pays Sarah Montague £1m Equal Pay Settlement

The BBC has paid Radio 4 presenter Sarah Montague £1 million following an internal investigation into gender pay inequality.

Montague, 53, who started with the BBC in 1997, presented the flagship Today programme alongside John Humphrys for 18 years. She left the programme in 2018 and was said to be "incandescent with rage" to learn that her salary of £133,000 was a fraction of the £600,000+ paid to Humphrys.

A BBC source told The Sun: "Sarah's case had rumbled on for some time and, for her, it was never about the money. It was the principle of doing the same job as a man, and being paid, and treated, the same. Her payout has been the talk of the BBC, and has inspired other women.

"But as far as both she and the Beeb are concerned, the matter is done and dusted."

In 2018, Montague said: "I had long suspected that I was paid much less than my colleagues but until the pay disclosures I had no idea of the scale of that difference.

"Some years ago I was even assured by a manager that I was not the lowest paid on the programme."

Montague's payout comes hot on the heels of an Employment Tribunal ruling that the BBC had unfairly discriminated against presenter Samira Ahmed by paying her less than male presenters doing comparable work.

The BBC fears that many more women could lodge equal pay claims in the future, so is currently conducting a damage limitation exercise.

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Edit (20/1/20): Both Sarah Montague and the BBC have gone on the record today, confirming that the settlement was in the sum of £400,000 and not £1 million as reported by the national press yesterday.

BritBox: Joint BBC/ITV Venture Slammed After it Emerges US Viewers Get More for Less

The BBC has been accused of ripping off viewers, after it emerged that US viewers pay a lower rate for on-demand service BritBox compared to their UK counterparts.

For the princely sum of £5.99 a month viewers can enjoy a selection of the BBC and ITV's most dated programming at the push of a button (just as they currently can by tuning to BBC Two or ITV3).

The plan, certainly from the BBC's point of view, is to relocate vast swathes of archive content from the iPlayer and distribute it, at a price, via the new platform.

The BBC has previously tried, and failed, to digitise its programme archive. That little experiment, called the Digital Media Initiative, was abandoned at a cost of £100m to the TV licence payer. We predict that Britbox, which is proving pretty unpopular compared to market leaders Amazon Prime (30 day free trial, click here) and Netflix (30 day free trial, click here), will end in the same outcome sooner or later.

New programmes will also be made specially for BritBox, with the first arriving later this year. Other existing series to be made available will include Victoria, Happy Valley, Les Miserables, The Office and Benidorm.

Many viewers, who have loyally (or submissively, depending on your perspective) paid their TV licence fee for decades, are outraged that BritBox effectively makes them pay again for access to programmes they have already subsidised.

Tweets at the launch of Britbox, included the following gems:
- "I have paid the BBC licence fee for 41 years, I calculate over £4,000 cost. And now they think I'll pay £72 a year to see programmes I paid for in 1978?"
- "Genius idea from the BBC - force an entire country to pay a yearly licence that they have no choice about, then charge them £5.99 a month to watch the shows that should be included within the price."

It has now emerged that US BritBox subscribers get more for their money, owing to a licensing arrangement between the US-version of the site and retail giant Amazon.

Sam Packer, of the TaxPayers' Alliance, said: "Charging Brits to watch shows they already pay for each year via the licence fee is ridiculous."

We agree entirely.

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